Are you in Shape?

What is fitness? Are you in shape? How much exercise do we really need to be considered to be “in shape”? The important variables to consider are frequency, intensity, duration, mode of activity and the initial level of fitness. In general a well-rounded training program should include aerobic and resistance training, and flexibility exercises. Age has not been found to be a limiting factor to exercise training, but a more gradual approach in older age groups is recommended because of a higher risk of potential hidden disease. It has been shown in research that health benefits from physical activity can be achieved at lower intensities of exercise. In this regard, physical activity can be accumulated through the day in shorter bouts of 10 minute duration. One should also have an appropriate warm-up and cool-down period, which would include flexibility exercises.

The American College of Sports Medicine emphasizes factors that result in permanent lifestyle change and encourage a lifetime of physical activity.

The American College of Sports Medicine Recommends:

1. A frequency of training: 3–5 days per week.

2. The intensity of training: 55/65%–90% of maximum heart rate (HRmax). The maximal heart is 220 minus your age.

3. The duration of training: 20–60 min of continuous or intermittent (minimum of 10-min bouts accumulated throughout the day) aerobic activity. Of course the duration is dependent on the intensity of the activity and therefore lower-intensity activity should be requires a longer period of time (30 min or more), and, conversely, individuals training at higher levels of intensity should train at least 20 minutes or longer.

4. The mode of activity: any activity that uses large muscle groups, which can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmical and aerobic in nature, such as running, dancing, skiing, karate, tennis, etc.

Resistance training should not be considered as a primary means of training, but it has significant value for increasing muscular strength. It is recommended that a minimum of 8–10 exercises involving the major muscle groups (arms, shoulders, chest, abdomen, back, hips, and legs) should be performed 2–3 days per week. A minimum of 1 set of 8–12 repetitions or to near fatigue.

American College Of Sports Medicine Position Stand
ACSM Position Stand on the Recommended Quantity
And Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining
Cardiorespiratory and Muscular Fitness and Flexibility
In Adults. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 30, No. 6,
pp. 975–991, 1998.